When Honda announced a few days ago that it would start production of at least one line of sedan cars in Nigeria, many may have thought it would start small. Literally. Civic small in fact. But instead, Honda is launching its first automobile production plant in West Africa with its best selling Accord. More accurately, Honda started production in Nigeria on the 10th of July this year, less than a week ago! In other words, change has come to the Nigerian automobile sector, Asian style.
How then does this tally with the Hollywood sci-fi featured image which graced this post? Well, considering the increasingly harsh realities faced by Nigerians, a Honda more the size of the concept micro commuter car you see above may have been more welcomed by the generality of the people. It's small, nimble, easy to park, and looks like it would sip petrol with a teaspoon. And here the dream dies. The micro commuter futuristic beauty will be electric. If, that is, it ever makes it to the production lines.
In which case, let us focus on the car which has indeed made it to the Honda production line in West Africa. The Accord 2016.
Honda Accord 2016 Interior
To fast track the production line, Honda Automobile Western Africa Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Honda in Nigeria, established a new plant by installing automobile production facilities and equipment within the property of the existing Honda motorcycle production plant and began Accord production with annual production capacity of 1,000 units.
Like most other multinationals who have had a taste of business in Nigeria, Honda views Africa as a new growth market. While there's nothing remotely new about Africa or Nigeria growth markets, we are grateful that the Japanese super power has taken the plunge and committed considerable funds into the Nigerian market. Following in the footsteps of other Asian car companies like Nissan and Kia, it is hoped that this trend is sustained and mutually beneficial.
According to Yoshi Yamane, Senior Managing Officer & Director, Honda Motors Co.,
“Establishment of the first Honda automobile production plant in Africa is an epoch-making challenge for us. This production operation incorporates know-how Honda has amassed through its long history of motorcycle business in this market, and we could re-discover the strengths of Honda at the spot of manufacturing operations. I expect that this initiative will lead to a great leap in our automobile business in Nigeria and become a first step toward expansion to the entire African market.”
Yusuke Hori, Operating Officer & Head of the Regional Unit (MEA) Honda Motor Co. continues,
“It is a great pleasure to see the start-up of Honda’s first automobile production plant in Africa. Our production volume is still small; however, we will strive to deliver the joy of mobility to as many customers as possible and expand our business in Africa in the future.”
From a purely economic perspective, this is very good news for the country. Employment, technology transfer, and increased industrialization should be the immediate results of this new partnership.
Just as importantly, it goes a long way to restoring investor confidence in Nigeria and will hopefully encourage further direct foreign investment into the country.